Album Review: Final Surrender â€“ Empty Graves
Fusion with Christian metalcore doesnâ€™t exactly work for this Bengaluru band
Originally due in April, Bengaluru metalcore band Final Surrenderâ€™s second full-length, Empty Graves, sounds like it was created first as a pure metalcore album with heavy breakdowns, gang choruses and melodic leads included. The Indian Classical parts seem like a hurried afterthought. The album sticks to drummer Jared Sandhyâ€™s description back in February: â€œItâ€™s like listening to two different parts; thereâ€™s just a bridge between the two genres. If you pull out the Indian parts, itâ€™s still metalcore. You will hear melodic sitarÂ swarasÂ but also blast beats and breakdowns.â€
Itâ€™s as simple as removing and adding layers to a track. But the album comes across as a copy-paste job at times, when some fusion parts just donâ€™t gel with the metal, like on their first single â€œRefresh.â€Â It works rather brilliantly, though, on tracks like â€œEgosnakehead,â€ where weâ€™re treated to a sitar solo from Bengaluru-based sitar player Suma Rani during a dissonant breakdown. Thereâ€™s also the sarangi courtesy Bengaluru-based Ustad Faiyaz Khan playing over choruses on this track. Producer Rocky Gray [former drummer of American alt rock band Evanescence] seems to take each song on a trial-and-error basis, getting better at fixing the track levels on â€œNot Done Yet.â€ Unless youâ€™re listening in on headphones, you might just think the Hindustani classical vocals were being sampled.
But Final Surrender definitely sound better on â€œSin Beyond Skinâ€ delivering a crushing performance minus the Hindustani vocal and instrumental parts. Unsurprisingly, Hindustani vocal harmonies canâ€™t level it out with vocalist Joseph Samuelâ€™s monster growl. The band also enlisted the Cochin Chamber Orchestra to go the symphonic metal way on â€œSatori,â€ â€œEvolveâ€™ and the mostly-instrumental â€œHouse of Cards,â€ where they fare much better compared to their hit-or-miss Indian fusion tracks.
The rest of the 12-track album, the follow-up to Final Surrenderâ€™s debut 2010 albumÂ Expanse, begins to bore until the penultimate track â€œMonkey The Dog,â€ which ticks all the boxes for metal fans, fusion fans and closes with a Bible verse to make sure you know what theyâ€™re talking about. The Christian element to their music isnâ€™t off-putting since they are growled most of the time. Amen to that.
Key tracks: â€œEgosnakehead,â€ â€œSin Beyond Skin,â€ â€œMonkey The Dog.â€
Empty Graves is out on November 5th on Rottweiler Records. Pre-order here.
Final Surrender perform alongside Demonic Resurrection and Theorized at CounterCulture, Bengaluru on November 3rd, 2013. Entry: Rs 400. Event details here.
Listen to the teaser forÂ Empty GravesÂ below